Stoyan Yankoulov (Bulgarian: Стоян Янкулов, born 10 September 1966), also known as Stundzhi (Bulgarian: Стунджи), is one of Bulgaria's most popular and renowned drummers and percussionists. Yankoulov formed the duo Elitsa & Stoyan to represent Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, and once again they represented Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö.
Yankulov graduated from the Lyubomir Pipkov music school in Sofia and then from the Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music, majoring in percussion instruments. He has played with rock and jazz bands, folklore ensembles, and jazz-rock and fusion bands. He has also taken part in many folklore and jazz festivals across Europe and in the United States.
Yankoulov showed interest in percussion instruments at a very young age. At the age of 10 he was the youngest drummer in his town's brass band (Elin Pelin). Meanwhile, Stoyan formed an amateur pop-rock band called Astronax (Bulgarian: Астронакс) in which he played drums. Their repertoire included songs by Supermax, Kiss, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Shturtzite, FSB, etc., but no original songs. His time with the band helped develop his sense of rhythm and gave him the confidence to be the spine of his group performances. Already engulfed in the world of percussion, Stoyan also continued piano lessons, which he had begun at age 8.
His first professional appearance was in the jazz-rock fusion band Tact (Bulgarian:Такт) with Yavor Dimitrov (piano) Miroslav Janev (bass guitar) and Evgeniy Simeonov (guitar). After the group broke up, he played in several professional bands during his secondary education. When he had barely started his higher education, Yankoulov joined the Big Band of Bulgarian National Radio, in which he played for seven years. Playing in many jazz formations, he quickly got into the swing of jazz music and became a regular performer in major jazz festivals in Varna, Apollonia, Plovdiv, Rousse and others.
Yankoulov spent the longest time of his career in the band Zone C, founded in 1994 with Vesselin Vesselinov-Echo (bass) and Vasil Parmakov (piano). Misho Grozdanov, Vladko Karparov (saxophone), and Ateshghan Yuseinov (guitar, tambura) joined the band later. Stoyan Yankoulov formed a duo with Theodosii Spassov (kaval), and later, together with Anatoly Vapirov (saxophone), they laid the foundations of the Fairy Tale Trio.
Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov performing live at Bulgarian ESC 2007
In 2000 Stoyan Yankoulov' met the Bulgarian folklore singer Elitsa Todorova at a Bulgarian music festival held in Canada. They quickly exchanged ideas about their common interest in percussion instruments, fast electronic beats, and dedication to Bulgarian folklore. Three years later the Elitsa Todorova-Stoyan Yankulov Duo started working on music.
On 25 February 2007, Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov's song 'Water' won the Bulgarian National Television's public contest and was selected to represent Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007. Where they performed as the duo Elitsa & Stoyan.
Yankoulov and Todorova represented Bulgaria once again in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö. The duo perform the song "Samo shampioni" during the second semi-final, but did not qualify for the final.
Yankoulov develops the art of playing drums and other percussion instruments by applying new techniques and non-standard musical ideas. He experiments widely, even using an old tractor motor. Playing on a couple of instruments at a time, Stoyan creates an orchestral sound that can make listeners believe that more than one percussionist is playing.